Rong Zhu, the lightweight prospect who made his UFC debut at UFC 261 is green talent at 21 years and 50 days old. Although he is among the youngest fighters to ever compete in the UFC, the record for the youngest fighter to ever sign a UFC contract belongs to UFC featherweight Chase Hooper. 'The Teenage Dream' signed the development league contract following his win over Canaan Kawaihae on July 24, 2018, aged 19 years and 350 days at the time.
China's own Rong Zhu (17-4 MMA, 0-1 UFC) made his UFC debut against fellow debutant Rodrigo Vargas (12-4 MMA, 1-0 UFC) in the early prelims of the UFC 261 pay-per-view event. Zhu lost the fight via unanimous decision (30-26, 29-28, 29-28) after getting outstruck by his opponent 96 to 42 in terms of significant strikes that landed. Although Zhu was able to secure three out of four takedown attempts in the fight, he failed to keep Vargas on the mat.
However, Rong Zhu is an extremely active fighter that has fought 21 times since making his professional MMA debut in March 2016, five years ago. He is also an instinctive finisher that has scored 16 out of his 17 professional wins by stoppage (13 KO/TKO, 3 submissions). The loss to Rodrigo Vargas was Rong Zhu's first professional loss since 2018 and it snapped his 10-fight winning streak.
Rong Zhu is the latest addition to the list of fighters that had an early start in the UFC
The pressure of a UFC debut is something that a lot of fighters fail to cope with. Therefore Rong Zhu's loss at UFC 261 is barely a setback, especially this early in his career.
Rong Zhu is the latest addition to the long list of fighters that made their UFC debut at a very early age. He now sits amongst the likes of Vitor Belfort (19 years), Robbie Lawler (20 years), Nick Diaz (20 years) and Max Holloway (20 years).